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What? Productions find creative ways to help during pandemic

What? Productions find creative ways to help during pandemic


Creatives from all ends of the events industry spectrum were swept clean off of their feet at the beginning of March. There was very little time to adapt following the cancellation of thousands of live events across the world.

Those in the music industry, though, seemed to have a creative edge over the rest of business owners who were figuring out how to deal with social distancing.

The team of doers over at What? Productions–an events production company made up of Columbus artists, musicians, and other creatives–wasted no time in lending a helping hand with live music temporarily on hold. With a utility of useful skill sets and a network of innovative creators, the team at What? has been working hard to provide frontline professionals with the necessary equipment to stay safe while at work.

A GoFundMe fundraiser was organized by What? co-owner and co-founder Ryan McKee with a goal to raise $7,200 to produce 1,200 face shields. The safety equipment would then be donated to frontline medical professionals who are working in non-major networks such as nursing homes or private practices.

“We are lucky to have free time now to give to projects or organizations and try and make a difference,” McKee said. “We’re doing everything we can to directly and positively impact the community.”

One of the key players in making the whole operation possible is local maker Ben Satterfield. Having previously worked on projects for What? festivals and events, Satterfield is a chief example of a Columbus resident using their talent and skills to help those who are putting themselves in dangerous situations.

Using the Columbus Idea Foundry as a studio, What? team members have been milling the mold for the face shields using materials from various online distributors. A laser cutter is then used to create the mask’s transparent protection. The masks are then cleaned, assembled, and packaged at the production company’s recently acquired 4,000-foot gallery space before being distributed.

The procedure by which the face shields are made is referred to as injection molding, a process almost 25 times faster than 3D printing. Through this exercise, the face shield mold is ready to be used again after roughly five to six minutes.

In addition to helping out frontline workers, What? has been able to provide two designers, a photographer, and a videographer with work on this project. The company hopes to work with four more artists over the donation period.

As of right now, the fundraiser has brought in over $2,500 or around 435 face shields. What? Productions has also started to make hand pump stations, which are being sold to Columbus-area businesses at a discounted price.

“We hope that when or if people can spare a couple of dollars or a couple of hundred dollars they think of us and our mission, and if not us, someone else doing something good for their community,” McKee said.

To donate to What? Production’s GoFundMe, follow the link located here.


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